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Graffiti is Art

Jan 30, 2009 by Lisa Newton

Today, my mission was to find the Venice Art Walls. It’s legal graffiti art, requiring each artist to obtain a permit—essentially murals, to be more exacting.

Pursuant to LA’s city permits, as of June 3, 2007 anyone who wants to paint on the walls needs to apply for and obtain the requisite approvals. If you don’t, and then paint or mark any surface on the Venice Art Walls area without a permit, you’ll receive a ticket for vandalism by the LAPD or the Park Rangers. You may apply for a permit in person (on-site), over the Internet, or via fax. The physical permit itself will be issued by an on-site Supervisor the day you’ll be painting. Permits are free of charge, and are issued only by ICU Art. Permits are valid for one day only and must be returned at the end of the day.

Personally, I love the idea that graffiti artists have a legal place to display their skills and to highlight their work. So many of these artists have mad talent but instead of a permit they could and often land in jail or worse for expressing themselves.

Although their medium isn’t considered mainstream quite yet, urban arts are definitely being more and more accepted—the early works of Keith Haring, Banksy, and Basquiat surely helped pave the way for the younger generations.

Because the murals are only allowed to be painting on the weekends, I’m assuming each week, the designs change.

Although, I won’t be visiting this location every weekend, the idea of letting the artists create new art every week is exactly like an outdoor art gallery so you can always find a new artist featured that you may want to learn more about or even to collect other artwork from.

Over the years, the regulations that govern painting on these walls have changed several times. Painting first started in 1961, although technically illegal to paint the walls then, but was generally tolerated by the Police and was loved by the community.

Only in 2000, did it became barely legal to paint on walls; however, the artists had to submit sketches to ICU (In Creative Unity) Art, a Venice based arts organization, in order to be scheduled to paint on one of the four large walls featured here.

But to be frank, this is art at its finest and hippest:


I’m not sure what the regulations are for painting on the trees, garbage cans, or garbage bins may be, but it’s definitely a form of expression.

Stash Maleski, the Director of ICU Art has been curating the Venice Art Walls since 2000, and to this day continues to advocate for the rights of public artists and graffiti artists in general.

Mr. Maleski states, “My goal is to provide opportunities for artists to create great public art in such a way that it will add to our visual environment and be appreciated by the public.”

I must admit my eyes are now wide open to this beautiful and visually stimulating type of art and excited to have discovered something that was always here, but I didn’t know about, until I decided to go Travelin’ Local.

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Art, Beach Towns, Culture, Venice

10 Responses to “Graffiti is Art”

  1. Lance says:

    What a great form of expression – and one that’s legal and encouraged – very cool – giving people a place to express through art! I love your last shot, with so many items displaying art! Thanks, Lisa, for continuing to give me a peek into your world!

    Lance’s last blog post..Graffiti is Art


  2. LisaNewton says:

    You’re very welcome, Lance. You give me a bright spot each time I read your blog, so it’s good to know I can return a little back……………………:)


  3. Mike Foster says:

    Hey Lisa, like this site, this is my first visit. As someone who also used to live Back East, as well as in southern Cal, before moving to the beautiful northern part of the state, I appreciate sites, like yours, that showcase all of the wonderful stuff our great state has to offer. As for graffiti as art–I’m all for it, as long as it does not infringe upon areas that do not share the artist’s vision of art.


    Mike Foster’s last blog post..Graffiti is Art


  4. LisaNewton says:

    Mike, you’re welcome to stop by anytime. Us East/West Coasters have to stick together………………:)


  5. wendy-escape from NY says:

    I always love checking out the grafitti when in Venice Beach. It’s nice to know how it all works. I’ve always wondered.

    wendy-escape from NY’s last blog post..Walking to the Fowler


  6. LisaNewton says:

    @Wendy I think I might go back this weekend to see the artists in action. I’m so glad you found the post educational…………….:)


  7. Henie says:


    This is one of my haunts! I love the creative energy when I’m there…artists are so full of passion!

    Have you ever done The Brewery Art Walk? It’s coming up in April and if you haven’t done it yet, it really is a fun thing to do…

    Henie’s last blog post..A Waterfall in my Backyard


  8. Adam Pieniazek says:

    Nice! I love graffiti art and remember checking out this place when I lived in LA. Wish they had something similar here in Boston, though our stuck up, stuffy, protestant roots make it real tough to do so. Actually, we did have one for a minute in the South End but I’m 99% sure that they ended up closing that down. It’s a shame, there’s plenty of old, ugly walls around here that would look waaaaay better with some legal street art.

    Adam Pieniazek’s last blog post..Our New Design


  9. LisaNewton says:

    @ Adam Graffiti is being used for so much more, too. I’d love to see the history Boston represents depicted on a few graffiti walls.


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